The operatic marvels associated with the human voice have always intrigued me. So, I decided to get in touch with the campus singers at UBC A Cappella.
To look into this pantheon of divos and divas, I met up with 2 personable, alto-singing club executives: Elaine Shi and Stephanie Zhao.
Elaine, an Arts student in her third year, shoulders the role of Secretary.
Drawn to the singing atmosphere in high school, she joined A Cappella in her first year. Wait, there’s more: “I guess Pitch Perfect was also a big reason why I got interested.”
I was curious about her musical secret.
She says, “Singing in the shower. I share a bathroom with another person. She’d go, ‘Elaine, are you done?’ And I’d be like, ‘Just after this one song!’”
A choir student throughout high school, Stephanie—VP Internal (and a second-year Arts student in the B+MM program)—heard about A Cappella through her year’s UBC Facebook Group before coming in:
“I had made friends with someone in the beginning of the school year and he told me about it. He was like, ‘I have a friend that’s in A Cappella, so I’m probably going to join it.’ Turned out my core friend group also liked a cappella, so I thought, ‘I guess I'll try it out!’”
Stephanie’s musical secret? “My earbuds are constantly with me. I call them 'My Babies.' When I lose a bud, I shed real tears.”
Speaking of tears...
“When I went to do auditions in my first year, I didn't get in,” Elaine says. “That was also the first year of Fast & Forte, the group for un-auditioned singers. I stayed there for a year. In second year, I auditioned for the other group, Fermata, and got in!”
And Stephanie? “In my first semester, I auditioned and didn't get in. I was also taking comp sci at the time. I was just like ‘I can't handle this.’ So, I joined A Cappella in second semester in Fast & Forte because I had FOMO—all my friends were in the club.”
The bass-ic club structure
UBC A Cappella is led by an executive team, holds club exec meetings and rehearsals, and comprises 5 major groups:
Fast & Forte
Each group has its own Musical Director (MD) and Group Representative, voice parts (i.e. soprano, alto, tenor, and bass), and rehearsal times and locations.
Elaine says, “Each group has its own personality, which can shift every year.”
In addition, there are 2 competitive groups: Eh? Cappella and Northwest Collective (a.k.a. NWC). If you consider yourself a competitive singer, give either a try!
The cadence of community
A Cappella made Stephanie’s first year. “It really brought out my first-year experience. One of our past concert themes was Lilo & Pitch, which revolved around ‘ohana’ and ‘family’ [a nod to the movie Lilo & Stitch]."
"That's exactly what A Cappella is! Our groups kind of interlock, we’re all, like, like…” At a loss for words, Stephanie wrapped her arms around herself in a hug.
“Time would fly right by,” Elaine says. “I’d be like, ‘Wait, what's going on? Why’s it already 8:00 pm? Can we stay for a little longer?’ I think it's a music thing and a community thing. You get to know each other better.”
But that’s not the only sense of community:
Stephanie recounts, “I got a job interview at a movie theatre over the summer. During the interview, I brought up a cappella and my interviewers were like, ‘UBC A Cappella?! Oh my god, I LOVE you guys!’ Apparently, the year Pitch Perfect 2 came out, the club had done a gig at that very movie theatre. People remember you!”
Stage on! The audition process
Auditions are available both terms of the academic year and include singing, sight-reading music, range-testing, and ear-testing—all before a few judges (the MDs) who determine your group placement.
They're currently accepting members into their non-auditioning group Fast & Forte until October 9!
Clef-hanger: Nervous about trying out?
Elaine wasn’t confident when she began. She says, “I’d ask, ‘Am I really good enough to sing with all these people?’ But then I thought of it as a growth opportunity. I had to try to be better.”
“The growth opportunity is definitely a real thing,” Stephanie says. “Everyone’s super friendly. If you ask for help, you’ll get the help that you need.”
Membership perks ($10)
- Free T-shirt
- Social events, coffeehouse, and formal
- Concert at the end of each term
- Peer training, vocal and beatboxing workshops!
Tune in! Where to find UBC A Cappella?
- Auditions for recruitment—mind the cut-off date!
- Fundraisers throughout the year, e.g. Valentine’s Day Acagrams
- Gigs, sectionals, and concerts all around (available for booking, too!)